Tag Archives: appreciative inquiry

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appreciative inquiry strategies

Using Appreciative Inquiry to Build a Better Customer Experience

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Every business and successful organization cares about the customer experience. Can you use Appreciative Inquiry methodologies to build a better customer experience?

Those reading who are new to appreciative inquiry only need to understand a few basics about the definition to get started.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry may be described as a method to search for, uncover, and bring out the best in people, teams, and entire organizations.

Perhaps the most important factor for getting started is to understand that Appreciative Inquiry is not centered on identifying problems. It is centered on asking questions (inquiring) about what gives a system and its people life.

Consider that it’s looking for positive imagination (dreaming) and innovative ways (designing) to use positive approaches. It is not focused on negativity, what didn’t or won’t work, and chronic diagnoses of what is causing problems.

Customer service appreciative inquiry strategies

Based on either a 4-D or 5-D Cycle model properly empowered people can ask questions, innovate, form strategies, and transform systems and culture based on positive life giving forces.

Customer Experience

It’s easy to get started on ways to improve the customer experience. Instead of asking customers or the people in your organization what is wrong or what didn’t work, use an Appreciative Inquiry approach.

Consider asking a somewhat vague opening question that will drive the conversation, something like “What would our best product or service, considering no limitations or barriers, look like?”

You can then supplement the interactions with supporting information-gathering questions like:

  • What customer stories, testimonials, or other narratives can be shared about best experiences?
  • Describe the features or values about our products or services that inspire recommendations to others.
  • What brings our customers back for repeat business?

Appreciative Strategies

Often one of the most important and challenging aspects of driving change within a system or organization through Appreciative Inquiry is carefully and closely monitoring the interactions. Many people, especially those unfamiliar with the process will quickly digress into problems, reasons why not, and subjective negativity.

Appreciative strategies inquiry custserv

During most interventions this is not intentional to undermine the process. It is more representative of patterns of learned behaviors which are to identify the problem, exploit it, analyze it, agonize over it, and repeat. That is not the Appreciative Inquiry way.

Can you use Appreciative Inquiry approaches to build a better customer experience?




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Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Using Appreciation to Create Positive Energy

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Are you surrounded by positive energy? It’s probably not surprising that organizational cultures that make a conscious effort to increase appreciation are also those with more positive energy.

appreciation  appreciative inquiry

Look around long enough and you’ll find varying opinions about the use of appreciation. On one hand you have the people who prefer to manage with an authoritarian approach and on the other hand you have the people who want to be so appreciative that they forfeit any representation of authority, chain of command, or organizational hierarchy.

Should there be a balance? Perhaps, yes, there should be some balance, but many organizations fail to find the happy medium.

Like many people in my profession I’ve heard and witnessed numerous stories about workplace culture gone wrong. I’ve heard the nicknames, the stereotypes, and the banter echo through the halls and at nearly every water cooler or coffee pot meeting conveniently located somewhere near you.

I’m sure that there is plenty I haven’t heard too.

Management team members and peers alike often label those that they identify with negative energy as a person with a bad attitude. Of course it may be true, they do have a bad attitude but can this attitude be corrected or improved? Can you find or create some sense of balance?

From my experiences employees with the worst attitudes are also the employees who feel the most unappreciated. Is the management or organizational leadership to blame? They might be, but even if they aren’t they should be taking the lead to help improve and create more positive energy.

You might want to consider a few triggers for negative energy, here are several:

  • Compensation package. We know that there are many sides to this story, but the brutal truth is that compensation is a critical factor for how people feel about their work.
  • Unclear purpose. Most people will work very hard for a purpose and understanding how their job connects to the organizational mission, vision, and values is often one of the most underestimated factors in workplace motivation.
  • Anger created by fear. Authoritarian approaches thrive (which is not good) on motivating people by suggesting it is a do it or die, my way or the highway, atmosphere. There is nothing positive about scare tactics for motivation.

How can you turn things around?

One of the easiest ways to look at making a difference is to remove, reduce, or otherwise improve the trigger points.

Employees who feel appreciated are more positive. There are many ways to express appreciation and increase positive energy without focusing on pay or compensation. Much of this will require communicating more effectively to express the values and beliefs of the organizational culture that you want to build.

Three of the most critical elements for increasing appreciation are to show more respect, ask for input, and genuinely thank employees for a job well done, extra efforts, and other important contributions.

Make no mistake, leading and motivating workplace teams requires a conscious effort to build the right kind of culture. Today’s socio-economic conditions and generational challenges all create added pressure for organizations who seek to have a more positive and energized culture.

Positive energy develops from appreciation.

Give more.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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